When I was still my father’s only son, he used to take me with him to the mechanic. There were two persons always hanging out at the garage front office – one was intersex and the other was transvestite – from what I can recall explained to me (I didn’t understand the full significance of the word hermaphrodite used to explain intersex and only now know it isn’t exactly the right word but they and my Dad tried and I was about 7) and both of them were very nice to me.
My hairdresser was a transgender woman with legs to die for who regaled us with her husband problems but her perfect figure and stiletto heels were #goals for my own very boyish frame.
Around the same time, my cousin from my mum’s side was outcast by his own father and moved to Johannesburg where my father and I attended his many flower shows and my mother often hosted him and his boyfriend for dinner. They both passed after the boyfriend contracted AIDS from a hook up at a dodgy cinema and thereby infected one of my favourite people in the whole world. I refused to attend his funeral, called him many times on his cellphone instead and continued to wear the black armband he had given me for years after.
Not long before my own cousin’s death, my dad’s cousin died while living the majority of his life in political exile and it was his boyfriend who brought his body home. At the wake, beautiful tales were told of this artistic man who became a renowned overseas journalist at a time when South Africa was under a media blackout and suffering the full onslaught of sanctions and how he chose to remain in a land away from his family for love. I was still young.
This business of homosexuality or LGBTQIP was never explained to me as a child. People are simply who they are and if they are nice to you, then you are nice back.
Same sex sexual partners or dressing choices or transgenderism was mentioned in such a matter of fact manner that it was never made into something for me to think about or to decide if I was accepting of it or not.
You see, it wasn’t about me. It never had been.
And it’s not about you either.
Homophobia is a stupid concept. How can you be “scared” of what other people are doing with their lives? The community around you is made up of many different people. Like a bag of liquorice all sorts, you get to choose your favourite ones and everyone else gets to choose theirs.
If somebody else being gay offends you – you need to think about what that means to you because the people around you aren’t going to change just ‘cos your delicate sensibilities are hurt.
Cos it’s simply not about you. It literally never was.